February 16, 2014

Messaging to multiple audiences

A common question I’m asked may be paraphrased as:

My standard three-part answer is:

Even if you have a wonderful stack of dovetailed messages, you surely favor some over others. After all, your marketing budget is constrained. So is space on your website’s home page. So is space in the headline and subhead of your press releases. All your messages should be in good shape, and not just the ones you talk about the most. But at any particular time, there are indeed certain messages — and usually one particular message orientation — that you push most aggressively.

Loosely speaking, the minimum life of a particular top message is and should be 6-12 months, for multiple reasons. Bottom up: What triggers a change in your top message? A new product release? A new press tour? Some available marketing resources? 6-12 months matches well to those timetables. And top-down:

Of course, people don’t immediately forget your old top message and buy into the new one as soon as you change. Thus, audiences react to your last few top-level messages at once. So should your last few messages be redundant or varied? The answer isn’t quite as clear as the pejorative word “redundant” suggests — I could as well have used “self-reinforcing” — but variety is indeed what I suggest. You don’t want to be perceived as “technology in search of a use case”; you also don’t want to be perceived as “all benefit claims with no technology to back them up”. And so you want people to remember that you tell both technology and business-benefit stories alike.

Comments

One Response to “Messaging to multiple audiences”

  1. Dan Graham on February 17th, 2014 2:34 pm

    100% agree. This see-saw of “Only talk to business” and “IT does the buying so talk to them” is foolish. Both sides of the business need to agree on what they buy. So feed them both with information or lose your chance to sell. I’ve only been saying this for 15 years.
    100% agree. It seems so obvious.

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